Title:
Exercise device and method of using same
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
An exercise device including first and second compressible bodies sized to be positioned between the knees and/or the ankles of a user. The compressible bodies each have at least one insert at least partially positioned therein which is less compressible than the compressible body. A method of exercising is also provided which includes positioning the compressible exercise devices between the knees and/or ankles of a user, and compressing the compressible body until the insert substantially increases resistance to compression. Moreover, an electronic media is provided that includes instructions for generating graphical images instructing a user.



Inventors:
Diseati, Michele (Germantown, MD, US)
Application Number:
11/387766
Publication Date:
09/28/2006
Filing Date:
03/24/2006
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/124
International Classes:
A63B21/02; A63B21/05
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
GANESAN, SUNDHARA M
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
GARRETT IP, LLC (45 N. Broad Street Suite 208, Ridgewood, NJ, 07450, US)
Claims:
1. An exercise device comprising: a first compressible body sized to be positioned between at least one of knees and ankles of a user, said first compressible body having at least one insert at least partially positioned therein, said insert being less compressible than said compressible body; and a second compressible body sized to be positioned between at least one of knees and ankles of a user, said second compressible body having at least one insert at least partially positioned therein, said insert being less compressible than said compressible body.

2. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said compressible body is made of an open cell, visco-elastic memory foam.

3. The exercise device of claim 2, wherein said visco-elastic memory foam has a density range of approximately 2.5 to 5.5 lb/ft3.

4. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said at least one insert of said first and second compressible body has two inserts that are spaced from each other.

5. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein each insert is substantially incompressible.

6. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein each insert is hemispherical in shape.

7. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said first and second compressible bodies each have at least one strap with a fastening mechanism for securing said compressible bodies between at least one of knees and ankles of the user.

8. The exercise device of claim 7, wherein said fastening mechanism includes a hook/loop fastener.

9. The exercise device of claim 1, wherein said first and second compressible bodies each includes at least one contoured surface with a recess.

10. An exercise device comprising: a compressible body sized to be positioned between at least one of knees and ankles of a user; and at least one insert positioned within said compressible body to limit extent to which said compressible body is compressed; wherein said insert is less compressible than said compressible body.

11. The exercise device of claim 10, wherein said compressible body is made of an open cell, visco-elastic memory foam.

12. The exercise device of claim 10, wherein said at least one insert is two inserts positioned spaced from each other.

13. The exercise device of claim 10, wherein said at least one insert is substantially incompressible.

14. The exercise device of claim 10, wherein said at least one insert is substantially spherical in shape.

15. The exercise device of claim 10, further including at least one strap with a fastening mechanism for securing said compressible body between at least one of knees and ankles of the user.

16. The exercise device of claim 10, wherein said compressible body includes contoured surface with a recess sized to receive at least one of knees and ankles of the user.

17. The exercise device of claim 10, wherein said compressible body includes a flat surface to allow said exercise device to be stably supported on a floor surface.

18. A method of exercising comprising the steps of: providing an exercise device with at least one compressible body, and at least one insert positioned at least partially within said compressible body, said insert being less compressible than said compressible body; positioning said exercise device between at least one of knees and ankles of a user; and compressing said compressible body between at least one of knees and ankles until said at least one insert substantially increases resistance to compression.

19. The method of claim 18, wherein said exercise device further includes at least one strap with a hook/loop fastening mechanism, and said method further includes securing said compressible body between at least one of knees and ankles using said at least one strap.

20. The method of claim 18, further including decompressing the compressible body.

21. The method of claim 18, wherein said at least one compressible body is two compressible bodies, and said at least one insert are a pair of inserts, each having a hemispherically shape and being positioned spaced from each other.

22. A method of exercising comprising the steps of: providing a first compressible exercise device and a second compressible exercise device; positioning said first compressible exercise device between left and right knees; positioning said second compressible exercise device between left and right ankles; compressing said second compressible exercise device between left and right ankles; and compressing said first compressible exercise device between left and right knees.

23. The method of claim 22, wherein compression of said second compressible exercise device between left and right ankles is initiated before compression of said first compressible exercise device between left and right knees.

24. The method of claim 23, further including continuously compressing said second compressible exercise device between left and right ankles as said first compressible exercise device is continually compressed between left and right knees.

25. The method of claim 22, wherein said first and second compressible exercise devices include at least one insert that substantially increases resistance to compression.

26. An electronic media having processor readable instructions, said digital media including: instructions for generating graphical images instructing a user to position an exercise device with at least one compressible body between at least one of knees and ankles of the user; instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to compress said exercise device; and instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to terminate compression of said compressible body upon feeling at least one insert positioned at least partially within said compressible body that substantially increases resistance to compression.

27. The electronic media of claim 26, wherein said exercise device further includes at least one strap with a hook/loop fastening mechanism, and said electronic media further includes instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to secure said compressible body using said at least one strap.

28. An electronic media having processor readable instructions, said digital media including: instructions for generating graphical images instructing a user to position a first compressible exercise device between left and right knees; instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to position a second compressible exercise device between left and right ankles; instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to compress said second compressible exercise device between left and right ankles; and instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to compress said first compressible exercise device between left and right knees.

29. The electronic media of claim 28, further including instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to compress said second compressible exercise device between left and right ankles before compressing said first compressible exercise device between left and right knees.

30. The electronic media of claim 28, wherein said first and second compressible exercise devices include at least one insert that substantially increases resistance to compression, and wherein said media further includes instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to terminate compression upon feeling said at least one insert.

Description:

This application claims priority to U.S. Provisional Application No. 60/664,968, filed Mar. 25, 2005, the contents of which are incorporated herein by reference.

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to the field of exercise devices and exercise methods that use such devices.

2. Description of Related Art

Various exercise devices have been proposed for exercising various parts of the human body, for example, to exercise the legs or buttocks of the user by compressing such exercise devices. In this regard, numerous prior art references disclose exercise devices that are used between a person's knees or thighs. U.S. Pat. No. 4,909,506, No. 4,483,533, No. 4,022,463, No. 5,026,050, and No. D341,401 all disclose such exercise devices.

U.S. Pat. No. 6,179,756 to Bertolucci et al. discloses an exercise method and an apparatus for relieving hip and back pain by compressing an object between the legs of the user. The reference discloses an apparatus including a firm, nondeformable or substantially nondeformable block, contoured to comfortably fit between a seated patient's thighs. In this regard, the reference discloses that the block is utilized transversely between the inside of the thighs just above the knees, and includes side surfaces having concave depressions to fit the contour of the inner thighs. The apparatus also includes a pair of straps to firmly hold the block to the thighs, and a timer to indicate the elapsed exercise time. In use, resistance is applied against the block by compressing the knees inwardly or by pulling them apart outwardly.

The reference further disclose an exercise therapy method including the steps of placing the apparatus having concave side surfaces between the inner thighs just above the knees in a transverse direction between the legs so that the inner thighs fit into the respective side surfaces of the apparatus, and compressing the knees inwardly toward each other against the apparatus to activate the adductor muscles in an isometric contraction. The reference teaches that this exercise corrects specific joint and soft tissue dysfunctions in the pelvic girdle and lumbar region, thereby relieving back and hip pain.

In addition, U.S. Pat. No. 4,830,366 to Ruden discloses an exercise device including a compression member having a pair of opposed bearing surfaces. A pair of strap members are connected to one another by a pair of tension members, the strap members allowing the device to be strapped between the thighs of the user. When the user's limbs exert inwardly directed. compressive forces against the bearing surfaces, the compression member produces resistive forces in reaction thereto.

The publication U.S. 2004/0198570 discloses a therapy cushion for use in conjunction with a conventional blood pressure cuff. The cuff is inserted into the cushion, and the cushion with the inserted cuff is placed between the legs of the user so that the user can perform compression exercises. The cuff is inflated and used as calibrated resistance training device for therapeutic and/or rehabilitation purposes.

However, the above proposed devices have had limited success in that they do not provide to the user, feedback for properly performing the compression exercises. In particular, the prior art devices do not provide feedback as to how far and how strongly the various exercise devices should be compressed between the knees of the users, such feedback being desirable to encourage proper exercise form, and provide a goal that encourages continued use of the exercise devices, while discouraging over exertion by the users. Moreover, the above prior art devices do not provide any tool or mechanism for use between any other portions of the user's anatomy in conjunction with use of the device between the knees.

Therefore, in view of the above, there exists an unfulfilled need for an exercise device that provides the feedback necessary to perform compression exercises properly. In this regard, there exists an unfulfilled need for such an exercise device that provides feedback as to how far, and/or how strongly, the various exercise devices should be compressed by the users. In addition, there also exists a need for an exercise device that can be used in conjunction with the device between the knees of the user so as to enhance the exercise.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

In view of the foregoing, one aspect of the present invention is an exercise device for use between the knees and/or ankles.

In accordance with one implementation, one advantage of the present invention is providing such an exercise device that provides feedback as to how far, and/or how strongly, the exercise device should be compressed. Such feedback encourages proper exercise form, provides a goal that encourages continued use of the exercise devices, and discourages over exertion by the users.

Another advantage of the present invention is in providing an exercise tool that can be utilized between the ankles of a user to biomechanically engage the muscles of the surrounding pelvic, and lower lumber levers needed for efficient core involvement to assist in postural alignment which is important in reducing pain and fat storage.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a method of exercise is provided using an exercise device which is compressed by the user.

In one embodiment of the present invention, an exercise device is provided which includes a first compressible body sized to be positioned between the knees and/or the ankles of a user, where the first compressible body has at least one insert at least partially positioned therein which is less compressible than the compressible body. The exercise device also includes a second compressible body sized to be positioned between the knees and/or the ankles of a user, the second compressible body having at least one insert at least partially positioned therein which is less compressible than the compressible body. In accordance with one implementation, the compressible body is made of an open cell, visco-elastic memory foam having a density range of approximately 2.5 to 5.5 lb/ft3.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, the first and second compressible bodies are provided with two inserts that are spaced from each other. Each insert may be implemented to be substantially incompressible, and to have a hemispherical shape. In still another embodiment, the first and second compressible bodies each have at least one contoured surface with a recess, and at least one strap with a fastening mechanism for securing the compressible bodies between the knees and/or the ankles of the user, the fastening mechanism including a hook/loop fastener.

In accordance with another embodiment of the present invention, the exercise device includes a compressible body sized to be positioned between the knees and/or the ankles of a user, and at least one insert positioned within the compressible body to limit extent to which the compressible body is compressed, the insert being less compressible than the compressible body.

The compressible body may be made of an open cell, visco-elastic memory foam, and may be provided with a contoured surface having a recess. In another embodiment, two inserts are provided. and positioned spaced from each other. The inserts may be implemented to be substantially incompressible, and to have a substantially spherical shape. In yet another embodiment, the exercise device may further include at least one strap with a fastening mechanism for securing the compressible body. Moreover, the compressible body may be implemented with a flat surface to allow the exercise device to be stably supported on a floor surface.

In accordance with another aspect of the present invention, a method of exercising is provided, the method including the steps of providing an exercise device with at least one compressible body, and at least one insert positioned at least partially within the compressible body, the insert being less compressible than the compressible body. The method also includes positioning the exercise device between the knees and/or the ankles of a user, and compressing the compressible body until the insert substantially increases resistance to compression.

In accordance with another embodiment, the exercise device further includes at least one strap with a hook/loop fastening mechanism, and the method further includes securing the compressible body between the knees and/or the ankles of the user using the strap. In another embodiment, the at least one compressible body is two compressible bodies, and the at least one insert are a pair of inserts, each having a hemispherically shape and being positioned spaced from each other. In yet another embodiment, the method of the present invention further includes decompressing the compressible body.

In still another embodiment of the present invention, the method of exercising comprises the steps of providing a first compressible exercise device and a second compressible exercise device, positioning the first compressible exercise device between the left and right knees, positioning the second compressible exercise device between the left and right ankles, compressing the second compressible exercise device between the left and right ankles, and compressing the first compressible exercise device between the left and right knees.

In accordance with another embodiment, the compression of the second compressible exercise device between the left and right ankles is initiated before compression of the first compressible exercise device between the left and right knees. In this regard, the exercise method further includes continuously compressing the second compressible exercise device between the left and right ankles as the first compressible exercise device is continually compressed between the left and right knees. The first and second compressible exercise devices may be implemented to include at least one insert that substantially increases resistance to compression.

Another aspect of the present invention is in providing an electronic media having processor readable instructions stored thereon for generating graphic images for performing exercises utilizing an exercise device. In particular, in one embodiment, the electronic media includes instructions for generating graphical images instructing a user to position an exercise device with at least one compressible body between the knees and/or ankles of the user, instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to compress the exercise device, and instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to terminate compression of the compressible body upon feeling an insert positioned at least partially within the compressible body that substantially increases resistance to compression. In accordance with another embodiment, the exercise device further includes at least one strap with a hook/loop fastening mechanism, and the electronic media further includes instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to secure the compressible body using the strap.

In yet another embodiment, the electronic media includes instructions for generating graphical images instructing a user to position a first compressible exercise device between the left and right knees, instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to position a second compressible exercise device between the left and right ankles, instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to compress the second compressible exercise device between the left and right ankles, and instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to compress the first compressible exercise device between the left and right knees.

In accordance with another embodiment, the electronic media further includes instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to compress the second compressible exercise device between the left and right ankles before compressing the first compressible exercise device between the left and right knees. In another implementation, the first and second compressible exercise devices include at least one insert that substantially increases resistance to compression, and the digital media further includes instructions for generating graphical images instructing the user to terminate compression upon feeling the insert.

These and other advantages and features of the present invention will become more apparent from the following detailed description of the preferred embodiments of the present invention when viewed in conjunction with the accompanying drawings.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exercise device in accordance with one example embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 2 is a side view of a compressible body of FIG. 1 showing the insert in accordance with one example implementation.

FIG. 3 is a perspective view of an exercise device in accordance with another example embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 4 is a frontal view of the exercise devices of FIGS. 1 and 2 in use.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an exercise device in accordance with yet another example embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an exercise device in accordance with still another example embodiment of the present invention which is implemented for use between the ankles of the user.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE PREFERRED EMBODIMENT

FIG. 1 is a perspective view of an exercise device 10 in accordance with one example embodiment of the present invention which can be utilized to perform exercises as described herein below. The exercise device 10 in accordance with the illustrated embodiment of FIG. 1 includes two compressible bodies 12 and 14, each of the bodies having straps 16 for securing each compressible body to a knee of the user as shown in FIG. 4. Of course, it should be appreciated that the exercise device 10 may be implemented for use between the ankles of the user as well, instead of the alternative embodiment of the exercise device that is shown in FIG. 4 and discussed in detail below.

Referring to FIG. 1, the compressible bodies 12 and 14 of the exercise device 10 are adapted to be compressed by applying a force thereon, the compressible bodies 12 and 14 exerting a force resisting such compression so that upon termination of the applied force, the compressible bodies 12 and 14 resiliently revert back to their original shape and dimensions. In this regard, the compressible bodies 12 and 14 may be formed from any appropriate compressible material such as foam which may be made of various materials including polyurethane, polyethylene, polystyrene, or other materials. In this regard, in the preferred embodiment, the compressible bodies 12 and 14 are formed from open cell, visco-elastic “memory foam” such as that available from Tempurpedic®. The visco-elastic memory foam may be implemented to have material density in the range of 2.5 to 5.5 lb/ft3.

As shown in FIG. 1, the compressible bodies 12 and 14 are preferably implemented with contoured surfaces 18 with recesses 19 to allow comfortable securement of the compressible bodies 12 and 14, to the knee and/or ankle of the user, while encouraging efficient isometric re-alignment. The two compressible bodies 12 and 14 of the illustrated embodiment are shaped to be correspondingly mated flush together between the knees of the user along interface 20 as most clearly shown in FIG. 1. In the above regard, the straps 16 for the compressible bodies 12 and 14 may be implemented in any appropriate manner so that they can be used to secure the compressible bodies to the user's knees. In the preferred implementation, the straps 16 are made of an elastic material such as rubber, and are provided with reusable fastening mechanism 17 at the ends thereof, which in the illustrated embodiment, is implemented as Velcro® (a reusable hook/loop type fastener), to thereby facilitate proper positioning of the exercise device 10 in the manner shown in FIG. 1. Of course, in other implementations, the straps may be non-elastic and be made of fabric, vinyl, etc. In addition, different fastening mechanism may be used such as snaps, buttons, clips, etc.

In accordance with the illustrated embodiment of the present invention, the compressible bodies 12 and 14 are also provided with a feature to provide feedback to the user of the exercise device 10. Preferably, this feature also limits the extent to which the mated compressible bodies 12 and 14 can be compressed by the user. In this regard, each of the compressible bodies 12 and 14 are provided with inserts 24 and 26, respectively, that are at least partially in the compressible bodies. Correspondingly, the inserts are illustrated with dashed lines in FIG. 1. In the illustrated embodiment, these inserts 24 and 26 are implemented in pairs which are positioned vertically spaced/offset from each other in the compressible bodies 12 and 14 in the manner clearly shown in FIG. 1. In addition, these inserts 24 and 26 are positioned adjacent the mating surfaces of the compressible bodies 12 and 14, respectively, so that they are adjacent to the interface 20 and at the middle of the exercise device 10 when the compressible bodies 12 and 14 are mated in the manner shown in FIG. 1.

The inserts 24 and 26 may be of any appropriate shape such as cubical, cylindrical, etc. In the illustrated embodiment, the inserts 24 and 26 are hemispherical in shape as can be appreciated by examination of FIG. 1 as well as the side view of the compressible body 14 as shown in FIG. 2. Of course, in other embodiments, the inserts 24 and 26 may be implemented to have a different shape as well. However, the illustrated hemispherical shape has been found to be especially advantageous in providing the appropriate amount of feedback to the user as the compressible bodies are compressed.

The inserts 24 and 26 in accordance with the present invention are preferably made of a less compressible material than the compressible bodies 12 and 14. In this regard, the inserts 24 and 26 may be made of denser foam having a higher durometer than the compressible bodies. Of course, the inserts 24 and 26 may be made of any appropriate material in other embodiments which is harder, and less compressible, than the compressible bodies 12 and 14. For instance, the inserts 24 and 26 may be made of substantially incompressible plastic, or other substantially rigid material.

Correspondingly, when the mated compressible bodies 12 and 14 are compressed by the user, the user's knee eventually compresses against the compressible bodies sufficiently so that the inserts 24 and 26 substantially increase resistance to further compression and function as core torque inhibitors. This allows the user to feel that he/she has compressed the exercise device 10 sufficiently to exercise the desired muscles, and thus, provides an indication to the user to cease exerting compression force thereon. Moreover, in the illustrated embodiment, because the inserts 24 and 26 are implemented as pair of inserts which are positioned spaced/offset from each other, the bony portion of the user's knees does not exert directly aligned pressure on the inserts 24 and 26 so that discomfort to the user can be reduced while still providing the definitive feedback to the user that full compression has been reached. In this manner, the exercise device 10 in accordance with the present invention facilitates proper execution of the compression exercises by providing feedback as to how far, and how strongly, the exercise device 10 should be compressed. In addition, the inserts teach the user to sense the end range of isometric re-alignment while preventing the user from over-torquing, or over-using the joints, instead of the muscles of the body surrounding the joints.

FIG. 3 shows a perspective view of an exercise device 30 in accordance with another example embodiment of the present invention which is especially suited for use between the ankles of the user. In this embodiment, the two separate compressible bodies are not provided, and straps are also not provided. Instead, the exercise device 30 is implemented as a single integral unit with compressible body 32 that has contoured surfaces 36 formed thereon so that the exercise device 30 can be positioned between the ankles of the user, and to enhance efficient isometric re-alignment. Of course, it should be appreciated that the exercise device 30 may be sized and implemented for use between the knees of the user as well, instead of the embodiment of the exercise device that is shown in FIG. 4 discussed in detail above.

As shown, the inserts 34 are provided within the compressible body 32, the inserts 34 being less compressible than the compressible body 32. In the manner discussed previously relative to the embodiment of FIG. 1, the inserts 34 may be implemented using foam having a substantially higher durometer than the compressible body 32, or be made of a substantially incompressible material. In this regard, the inserts function as core torque inhibitors and teach the user to sense the end range of the isometric re-alignment of skeletal segments involved in exercises performed, without working so hard that the user over-torques, or over-uses, the joints. The inserts 34 may be implemented to have a substantially spherical shape, the inserts being implemented in pairs which are positioned spaced/offset from one another within the compressible body 32, to allow the inserts to function in a similar manner as the inserts described relative to the embodiment of FIG. 1.

The above described exercise devices 10 and 30 shown in FIGS. 1 to 4 may be implemented in various sizes to allow use between knees and/or ankles of individuals of different sizes. Thus, exercise devices 10 and 30 may be implemented to be available in small, medium, and large sizes to account for differently sized pelvic frames.

In this regard, TABLE 1 below sets forth the height, width and depth dimensions (in inches) of the exercise devices 10 and 30 for use between the knees and/or of the user. The direction of height (h), width (w) and depth (d) of the exercise device is shown in FIGS. 1 and 3 for clarity. The width dimension of the compressible body set forth refers to the total width of the exercise device (i.e. for exercise device 10, the combined width of the compressible bodies 12 and 14, excluding any straps). Moreover, the diameter of the insert is for each of the inserts, whether they are implemented to have a hemispherical shape as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 1, or implemented to have a spherical shape as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 3.

TABLE 1
Compressible BodyInsert (each)
SizeHeight (in.)Width (in.)Depth (in.)Diameter (in.)
Small7653
Medium8864
Large91086

Of course, the above noted dimensions are provided for exemplary implementations of the present invention only, and the present invention may be implemented with different dimensions as well. In addition, the relative proportions between the inserts and the compressible body may also be modified. Moreover, the inserts need not be implemented to be spherical or hemispherical in other embodiments, but may have different shapes. The dimensions thereof may be adjusted so that the insert performs the function in the manner discussed above. However, the above noted configuration and dimensions of the exercise device has been found to enhance the utility of the exercise device between the knees and/or the ankles of individuals of different sizes and proportions, allowing users to effectively utilize the present invention.

FIG. 4 illustrates a frontal view of the exercise devices 10 and 30 in use, with the user standing, the exercise device 10 being positioned between the inner anatomical surfaces of the user's knees, and the exercise device 30 being positioned between the inner anatomical surfaces of user's ankles. Such simultaneous use has been found to provide the maximum benefit of the exercises in accordance with the present method as discussed in further detail below. However, it should be apparent that the user can utilize a single exercise device between the knees or the ankles, instead of utilizing both of such devices simultaneously as shown.

It should also be understood that the exercise devices 10 and 30 shown in FIG. 4 are illustrated in their uncompressed form. As discussed in further detail below, the user can compress, and decompress the exercise devices between the knees and/or ankles, thereby exercising certain muscles, including those in the lower abdomen, to establish muscle memory, and improve the posture of the user. Isometric resistance is applied by the compressible bodies of the exercise devices as they are compressed, and decompressed, between the knees and/or the ankles of the users.

In particular, the exercise device 10 in accordance with the present invention is positioned between the user's knees while the exercise device 30 is positioned between the user's ankles in the manner shown in FIG. 4. Again, it is noted that either of these devices can be sized for use between the knees and/or ankles. Thus, two of the same embodiment of the exercise device may be utilized by the user. In addition, whereas FIG. 4 shows the exercise devices in use when the user is standing, the exercise method of the present invention may also be practiced when the user is sitting or in other postures.

FIG. 5 is a perspective view of an exercise device 50 in accordance with yet another example embodiment of the present invention. As can be seen, the exercise device 50 is substantially similar to the exercise device 10 shown in FIG. 1 and discussed above. In this regard, the exercise device 50 includes two compressible bodies 52 and 54, each of the bodies having straps 56. The compressible bodies 52 and 54 are preferably formed from open cell, visco-elastic “memory foam”, and are further provided with inserts 64 and 66, respectively. The inserts may be implemented using foam having a substantially higher durometer than the compressible bodies, or be made of a substantially incompressible material.

In contrast to the previous embodiments, these inserts 64 and 66 are implemented singly and not in pairs. In other words, only the upper inserts are provided in the compressible bodies instead of upper and lower sets as shown in the embodiment of FIG. 1. This provides similar function as the inserts of the previous embodiment in that the user can feel the inserts upon compression so as to instruct the user to terminate further compression. Thus, as described, the inserts function as core torque inhibitors to teach the user to sense the end range of the isometric re-alignment of skeletal segments involved in the exercises performed, without working so hard that the user over-torques, or over-uses, the joints. Of course, because only one set of inserts are provided in the illustrated embodiment, the feedback to the user by the insert may not be to the same degree than if a pair of inserts are provided as in the embodiment of FIG. 1.

FIG. 6 is a perspective view of an exercise device 70 in accordance with still another example embodiment of the present invention which is especially suited for use between the ankles of the user. Like the embodiment of FIG. 3, the exercise device 70 is implemented as a single integral unit with compressible body 72 that has contoured surfaces 76 formed thereon so that the exercise device 70 can be positioned between the ankles of the user, and to enhance efficient isometric re-alignment. As shown, the insert 74 is provided within the compressible body 72 that is less compressible than the compressible body 72 so as to preferably function in the manner noted above, i.e. as core torque inhibitors to teach the user to sense the end range of the isometric re-alignment of skeletal segments involved in exercises performed.

In contrast to the previously described embodiment of FIG. 3, the exercise device 70 is also provided with a substantially flat surface 78 so that the exercise device 70 can be placed flat on the floor surface, and straddled between the ankles of the user. This facilitates utilization of the exercise devices since the exercise device 70 is stable when placed on the floor surface, and can be easily straddled between the ankles of the user, even with an exercise device positioned between the knees of the user which can restrict the user's mobility. In addition, because the exercise device 70 can be stably supported on the floor surface, straps are not required. Moreover, the exercise device 70 may be implemented substantially symmetrically so that the top surface 79 is also flat allowing the exercise device 70 to be supported on the floor surface thereon, and used in two different orientations.

In such an implementation, the exercise device 70 is sized accordingly for use between the ankles. In this regard, TABLE 2 below sets forth various dimensions (in inches) of the exercise device 70 in accordance with the preferred implementations thereof.

TABLE 2
Ankle Compressible BodyInsert
SizeHeight (in.)Width (in.)Depth (in.)Diameter (in.)
Small5653
Medium6864
Large81086

Again, the above noted dimensions are provided for exemplary implementations of the present invention only, and the present invention may be implemented with different dimensions, and the inserts be implemented with different shapes and sizes. However, these dimensions and use of hemispherical or spherical inserts have been found to be especially advantageous implementations of the present invention.

When the exercise devices of the present invention are used standing, for example, as shown in FIG. 4, the user compresses the exercise device between the knees and compresses the exercise device between the ankles at the contoured surfaces thereof. The resistance to compression that is provided by the compressible bodies of the exercise devices isometrically engage muscle and fat storage depots above the user's medial knee, outer thighs and buttocks. In addition, in accordance with the method of exercise of the present invention, the user also stands, and decompresses the compressible bodies between the ankles and knees in a direction away from the exercise device against the force exerted by the compressible bodies, to thereby isometrically engage muscle and fat storage depots of the user's upper hip, inner thigh, thighs, buttocks, abdominals, and low back. This motion also engages the spinal column of the user, from adductors originating at the pelvis, to the erector spinale of the lumbar spine to the cervical spine.

In the sitting position, the user compresses the exercise devices inwardly from the user's ankles and knees to isometrically engage posture stabilizing muscles and fat storage deposits in the user's thighs, buttocks, abdominal core, and spinal column, from the sacrum of the pelvis, into the number 7 cervical vertebrae. The user also decompresses the exercise devices between the user's ankles and knees against the force exerted by the compressible bodies to isometrically engage muscle and fat storage depots of the user's inner thighs, buttocks, abdominals, low back, and spinal column from sacrum of pelvis into cervical vertebrae.

In the above regard, the exercises noted above that utilize the exercise devices in accordance with the present invention may be performed in a particular manner to maximize the benefits when performed either standing, or sitting. In particular, an exercise device is positioned between the knees of the user, and the ankles of the user. Then, the user begins, and continues, to slowly compress the exercise device between the user's heels by clicking the user's heels inwardly. This is the starting point of the exercises. At the same time, the users knees are softened, i.e. unlocked. As slow compression of the exercise device between the user's heels is continued, the user begins, and continues, to slowly compress the exercise device between the knees. Simultaneously, the user tucks in his/her lower abdomen, and clasps his/her mid-back region, including rhomboids, serratus posterior superior, and upper through lower trapezius. The user further relaxes the elbows downwardly and relaxes the head back while performing controlled breathing until both, the exercise devices between the ankles and the knees are compressed, as indicated by the feedback provided by the inserts. This exercise is repeated. Such method of exercise engages the muscles spiraling medially up the shin, and into the vital muscles at the inner knee (VMO) and Sartorius, around the thigh, and into the attachment of vital muscles into the SI joint of pelvis. Thus, pelvic stabilization is readily attained.

Additional exercises may be performed utilizing the exercise devices of the present invention. In this regard, the exercise devices may be used with the user laying down on his/her back, with knees bent, and feet on the floor surface. With the exercise devices compressed between the ankles and the knees until the user feels the inserts, the user inhales and lifts his/her buttocks to lift his/her skeleton into a stabilized diagonal line formed along the user's shoulders-hips-knees. The knees are pressed forward, while maintaining the compression of the exercise devices, to make the line from crown of the head to the knees as long as possible. The muscles of the inner thighs and buttocks are engaged, and the user clasps his/her mid-back around the mid-back region (rhomboids, serratus posterior superior, and upper through lower trapezius), and relaxes his/her hands in the direction of the heels. The user exhales as he/she slowly lowers the upper, middle, and the lower spine back to the floor in sequence, using the abdominal muscles. The exercise is then repeated.

Exercises can also be performed utilizing the exercise devices of the present invention while facing down on the floor surface. For example, the exercise devices may be positioned between the ankles and the knees with the user laying on the floor surface with the feet on a vertical wall surface and hands at the user's side facing the legs. The user begins the exercises by pressing his/her heels into the vertical wall surface while compressing the exercise devices between the ankles and knees until the user feels the inserts. Muscles of the buttocks and the mid-back region (rhomboids, serratus posterior superior, and upper through lower trapezius) are engaged by the user during the exercise so that the head is floated slightly above the ground surface. The hands are extended toward the heels. Muscles are then relaxed, and the exercise is repeated.

In a variation of the well known push-up exercises, the exercise devices are positioned between the ankles and knees of the user, with the feet of the user against the vertical wall surface. The exercise devices are gradually compressed until feedback as to full compression is provided by the inserts of the exercise devices. The user's heels are pressed against the vertical wall surface. Then, while contacting the abdomen muscles, push-ups are performed with the hands slightly more than shoulder width apart. During performing of the push-ups, the shoulder blades of the user are pushed back and down. Such push-ups are repeated. Optionally, such push-ups may be performed using the knees as a pivot point.

The above described methods of exercise utilizing the exercise devices in accordance with the present invention reacquaints the user with the human body's delicate balance between its muscles and the body's capacity for efficient skeletal segment alignment. The exercises as described build a foundation of support, actively engaging the user's muscles so that the user learns to utilize their body properly to build endurance, strength and stamina, while re-patterning inefficient body mechanics, so that the user's skeleton is balanced, and no longer working inefficiently against gravity. The exercises in accordance with the above methods, over time, correct specific joint and soft tissue dysfunction from the ankle through the cervical spine. In particular, by utilizing the exercise devices of the present invention as described above, the user's structural stability is corrected to thereby reduce lower back discomfort.

Moreover, in contrast to the prior art devices, the inserts of the exercise device in accordance with the present invention provides feedback to the user. This provides the biomechanical cues/memory for conducting the exercise in accordance with the present method properly. By establishing muscle memory, the user can activate his/her lower body throughout the day to exercise core musculature to practice proper postural alignment, without the use of the exercise devices, such exercises also providing the added benefit of using more calories.

In the above regard, by engaging in the above described exercise methods using the exercise devices of the present invention, various vital muscles of the body are utilized. In particular, when properly executed, muscles utilized include vastus medialis oblique (an integral quadriceps head that attaches into the medial knee); quadriceps (front thigh isometrically lifts); external hip rotators (that stabilize hip joints and externally rotate the femur of thigh) when the exercise devices are compressed; internal hip rotators (that stabilize hip joints and internally rotate the femur of thigh) when the exercise devices are decompressed; transverses abdominus (deep abdominal muscles intrinsic to tall postural alignment and breathing); gluteus maximus (buttocks muscle intrinsic to ambulation); gluteus minimus and medius (buttocks muscle intrinsic to internal rotation, external rotation, abduction and adduction of the hip joint); adductor group (inner thigh muscles that move lower body skeletal segments into the bodies midline); paraspinal muscles from sacrum to the cervical spine; and/or erector spinae group from pelvic girdle to nuchal line of cervical spine.

The above described exercise methods of the present invention utilizing the exercise devices also of the present invention can be effectively taught via individual instruction, a written manual, by audio instruction on. tape or CDs, or by video which may be provided on computer readable multi-media, on DVDs or video tapes, etc. Such materials can provide the user with the required guidance to properly conduct the exercises using one or two of the exercise devices of the present invention. Moreover, video instruction can be further provided with demonstrations as well as actual exercise sessions that can further encourage and motivate the user of the exercise device and method as disclosed herein. Correspondingly, another aspect of the present invention is in providing electronic media having processor readable instructions for generating graphical images for performing the above described exercises utilizing an exercise device.

While various embodiments in accordance with the present invention have been shown and described, it is understood that the invention is not limited thereto. The present invention may be changed, modified and further applied by those skilled in the art. Therefore, this invention is not limited to the detail shown and described previously, but also includes all such changes and modifications.





 
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